The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has issued a preliminary statement on the observation of the Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi Off-Season Gubernatorial Elections held on Saturday, November 11th, 2023.
As part of its commitment to enhancing the democratic process, TMG established the Election Situation Analysis Centre (ESAC), employing advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to receive, process, and analyze citizen observer reports. The ESAC served as a hub for election experts, data clerks, and citizen observers across the states, working closely to assess the off-cycle elections and Election Day proceedings.
Key findings from the preliminary report include:
OPENING OF THE POLLS:
Observers noted a slow start to the opening of polls in the observed polling units across Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi, with most units opening between 8:30 and 9:00 am.
ACCREDITATION AND VOTING:
Accreditation and voting commenced smoothly across the three states, beginning around 9:00 am in most observed polling units.
DEPLOYMENT OF MATERIALS AND STAFF:
Materials and INEC officials arrived between 8:00 am and 8:30 am in most polling units observed.
The Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) demonstrated adequate deployment and functionality across polling units in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi.
SECURITY OFFICIAL NEUTRALITY:
Security personnel, including members of the police, NSCDC, EFCC, NDLEA, FRSC, as well as military personnel, exhibited professional conduct and neutrality at polling units.
While there was low turnout of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), assistive materials were available. However, the lack of ramps for the physically challenged was noted.
Higher voter turnout was reported in Kogi and Imo states, while Bayelsa experienced lower turnout attributed to weather conditions, difficult terrain, and logistics issues.
PARTY AGENTS PRESENCE:
Major political party agents were present in most observed polling units, representing APC, PDP, Labour Party, and SDP.
INCIDENCE OF VIOLENCE:
Pockets of violence were reported in some polling units, including instances of political thugs reportedly killed by the military in Kogi State.
INCIDENCE OF VOTE TRADING:
TMG observers reported instances of vote trading, with desperate politicians offering cash gifts, food items, and clothing materials in some polling units.
In conclusion, TMG commended INEC, security agencies, and the citizens of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi for their contributions to the successful conduct of the elections, based on these preliminary findings.